The lighting of a fire #IMMOOC

One of my favorite quotes is,”education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” by William Butler Yeates. Yet, most of the emphasis in education today is on how much is in each pail. We continue to weigh the pail as though with each measurement we are increasing the mass of learning. Measurement is important to be sure, but today’s over emphasis on standardized testing of students has done more to derail real learning that it has done to help students become productive in today’s world. It’s been almost 40 years since the advent of the personal computer and over over 75 years since the advent of television yet most of today’s classrooms do not reflect those realities. Tonight as I listened to George Couros (@gcouros) and Katie Martin ()┬álead off the “Innovator’s Mindset” MOOC I thought of how much our educational system needs to change. Today’s children are surrounded with learning opportunities but it’s the educational gatekeepers who have until now stifled much of the necessary innovation needed to transform education. I’m hoping that this MOOC and the blogs, tweets and other sharing will help change that. Today’s students deserve better than they are getting and it’s not the fault of the teachers, nor the students and even administrators. It is time however for radical change. Radical in the sense that we need to give our students the tools to succeed and the broaden the scope of what is deemed academic. We don’t live in a college entrance world of the “baby boomers.” We need an educational paradigm change that celebrates diversity in learning styles and outcomes. That does not mean jumping on the newest “fad-wagon” either. It’s possible to be innovative without being a 1:1 school.One of the points that was made in their podcast was that some of the 1:1 schools still prohibit children from using cell phones and other BYO devices on their campuses. We need help our students to use these devices responsibly to be sure in the same way that we teach “driver education.” Not every student needs to learn how to code nor would our society or future world be better if they did code. Some will be coders, others will be writers, some will be builders, others will be painters and musicians. Everyone has gifts that can be developed. We need to develop communities of practice and learning where failure accepted as a necessary part of learning.

I’ve been co-teaching a STEM outreach program with Lego Mindstorms robots and one of the things I’ve noticed is the reticence of the students to answer questions because they have a fear of being wrong. I also have participated in four Ed Camps in the past year and this fear of being wrong is so in-grained in teachers that it takes a bit of cajoling to get them involved in discussions and sharing that are part of the dynamic of an EdCamp. Tonight’s podcast was exciting and I’m looking forward to more. You can follow along here.